I say, you can’t do everything in your business and you, as a small or micro business owner might say, “well, that’s fine Chris but I don’t really have a choice because there’s no one else to spin these plates and, at the stage my business is at, I can’t afford to hire anyone.” It kind of sounds like the end of the conversation, doesn’t it?
So, what if I told you that whilst you’re doing everything in your business you’re actually harming it and vastly reducing the chance of achieving long-term success? Would I have your attention now? Oh, and by the way, you can afford it.
You may have started your business for any number of reasons but what is usually common is that you’re an expert in something that you believe others will pay for and will benefit from. And it’s this expertise that will generate revenue and profit.
So, why do so many business owners do far more in their business that is beyond their expertise – beyond that which does generate revenue? The obvious answer is cash. They can’t afford to pay someone else to do the work.
Develop The Right Mind-set
Whilst this is understandable, it’s important that the mind-set is right. That mind-set needs to say, “I might not be able to afford to hire someone today but as soon as I can, I’m going to.” Because, if you don’t, you will continue to try and do as much yourself as you can and with that comes long, unproductive days, de-motivation, stress and a struggling business.
It’s important that you make this attitude a priority – that as soon as you can you need others to do the things you shouldn’t be doing – rather than thinking it’s a “nice-to-have” and that one day you’ll do it, but then assign no urgency or deadline to it.
Whilst you are doing everything in your business you are harming it.
At the core of your business you need to have products and services to offer and you need to bring them to the attention of those who would benefit from them and be willing to pay for them. Those are the 2 main priorities of a business. You need to do both and you need to focus as much of your time to them that you can.
In addition to these 2 core areas of your business you have the peripheral tasks that you have to stay on top of like accounting, legal, administration, logistics, support and so on. Map out your business and all the things that need to be done in it. You will quickly see that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. Hence, if you try to do everything, the 2 core areas will lose your attention and your business will suffer.
Certain areas of a business are usually outsourced very quickly. You hire an accountant and/or a book-keeper and you get a lawyer to create any legal documentation you need and be available for advice.
You may have created your own website to get started but at some point you’ll find a web developer create a better website for your business and maybe a graphics designer to create a logo.
Beyond this initial phase of outsourcing, small business owners will tend to do everything else themselves. And that still leaves quite a few plates to keep spinning.
I was the same when I first started out in my business. But at some point the penny drops and you realise that whilst you’re focusing your efforts on that spinning plate called “Marketing”, the plate called “Customer Relations” or “New Product Development” is starting to wobble. So you try and spread your attention across all the plates, which results in everything taking longer to complete. Now your stress levels are rising, as are the hours you’re spending in your business trying to keep the wobbling plates from crashing to the ground.
But “hang on” I hear you cry. I’ve just told you that attracting the right customers is one of your core priorities and then implied that the spinning plate called “Marketing” shouldn’t get as much focus as it does. Marketing needs focus but does it need you to spin the plate? If you create the message or the content, the stuff that sits on the plate then can you outsource the actual “marketing” effort – the effort that keeps the plate spinning? I’ll come back to this.
Provided you set the attitude that you are going to outsource as soon as you can afford to then over time your focus can settle on the core priorities of your business.
Time, Money and Expertise
If you’re unsure about outsourcing a particular piece of work or area of your business then calculate the financial impact on your business of doing it yourself versus outsourcing. Recall, my maths isn’t always the most robust so if you find an error in my calculation, stay focused on the principle of what I’m saying.
How much revenue do you aim to generate in the next 12 months? Divide that into working days and you have your daily rate. Feel free to divide that into hours if it makes sense for you.
For example, you need a website. Being no expert, let’s say it’ll take you 10 working days to build. Based on your forecast, say your daily rate is £500 a day. That’s £500 a day for 10 working days – £5,000. I know from experience that you can have a professional site developed for less than £1000 that is not only ready in half the time but better-looking and more effective.
You should of course provide the content, the copy, which let’s say would take you 3 days. 3 days of your time is £1,500, plus the cost of the web developer at say £1000 and you have a total cost (your time plus hiring the web developer) of £2,500 or half the cost of doing it yourself.
But the maths doesn’t stop there. If you had developed it yourself you would have committed 10 days to the task instead of 3 and lost 7 productive, revenue-generating days, which at £500 per day would be £3,500 in lost revenue. And so the cost to you, from a daily rate perspective, by doing it yourself amounts to £5000 + £3,500 or £8,500. That’s £6,000 more than the £2,500 it would have cost to outsource.
Wherever, you can, look to outsource and if in doubt, do the maths.
- How much would it cost you to do it?
- How much longer will it take you to do it to the required standard?
- How much potential business would you lose whilst doing it?
Outsource, outsource, outsource
You’d be surprised at how much you can outsource. A couple of books on the subject opened my eyes to the benefits of outsourcing and how to get it right. One is “Virtual Freedom” by Chris Ducker and the other is “Outsourcing Mastery” by Steve Scott
My expertise is in the help I bring businesses to build a foundation based on strategy, systems and leadership. My expertise is not in design or social media and so, as well as outsourcing the development of my websites and logos, I have outsourced the design of the cover for my book, for marketing collateral and more recently I have outsourced all the social media effort.
I wrote this blog post but I didn’t add this post to my blog site. If you received an email announcing this post, that’s scheduled using Mail Chimp and I didn’t schedule it. The post will appear on my Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ sites and tweeted on my Twitter site. None of which I’ll do. My social media goddess Jo Harrison, who also created the social media sites, does all this for me. I create the content and Jo does everything else.
Map out your business, identify what you can outsource and prioritise the order in which you should outsource that work. Then when you are ready, you know what to outsource and can find Virtual Assistants like Jo or submit a job on sites like Elance.
Focus on your expertise and on the core needs of your business and outsource as much of the rest as you can. Like I said, you may not be able to afford to outsource everything you’d like but at least have the attitude that as soon as you can you will.